not much time for fun or expressions of love. An order from Sears and
Roebuck in our mailbox was always an exciting time for us as we checked out
what was sent and what was out of supply. Twice a year there were new
shoes to try on and fabric to visualize as a new dress. The Sears and
Roebuck catalogue, which we received annually, was in and of itself a treat to
receive. Vicarious shopping and dreaming as we turned the pages was a
good past time. In addition, it was a good way to learn about things that
you never knew existed such as pessaries and other unmentionables. When
the next catalogue arrived, the old catalogue was then taken to the outhouse
where it was again useful for contemplation and it's final use as toilet
paper. A corncob was a last resort.
Another memorable event was selecting, cutting and eating the first ripe watermelon of the season. This usually happened during the first week of July and was one that we had grown from seed that Daddy planted. The rich red, sweet fruit was the most delicious thing you could eat. The flavor was enhanced if we picked it in the evening and left it in a tub of cold water overnight. Daddy, who was always first to sit down at the table and serve himself first, got the heart, the first center piece, and he always salted his. We ate the rest of it all the way down to the rind, and tossed the rinds into the pigpen for the pigs to eat. The chickens feasted on the seeds that we spit out.
Best of all the memorable events was welcoming Daddy home from a trip to the gin with our first bale of cotton of the season. We would have worked hard for days to pick enough to make a bale. Daddy kept the scales and weighed the cotton in our sacks before it was emptied onto the wagon bed. When it was piled high, and the scales indicated enough for a bale, he would hitch the mules to the wagon and drive it the five miles or so to the local gin. In the meantime, we would start on another bale, and when it was close to dark, we would go home and wait for the evening meal to be delivered by Daddy. Mama would make up a batch of lollypop (sugar with a fruit flavor and color) to drink with the sliced white bread and bologna that Daddy would bring home. He would slice off thin slices of the bologna and we would eat it raw between two pieces of bread. If anything was left, Mama fired the bologna the next morning and we had a slice for breakfast. All of us agreed that there was nothing in the world that tasted better. This feast symbolized our reward for almost a year of hard work beginning in February when we planted the first potato eyes, onions, tomatoes, etc. and then later when we planted cotton, corn, sorghum, oats and other fodder for the livestock. Everything we planted had to be protected against the many possibilities of an invasion by various diseases and insects. Daddy watched over the crops for signs of Boll weevils, army worms, potato bugs, and other assorted insects and vermin, worried through too much or not enough rain, and rising and falling cotton prices. Who can forget the song that goes like this: "Boll weevil, boll weevil, sitting on a square; the next time I saw him, he had his whole family there". The first ginned bale of cotton of the season was an affirmation that we would have enough to pay off the bank for the cotton, pay the landlord his share, and have enough to keep us through the winter months until we could start all over the next year. We would continue to pick the cotton on the farm until after school started in the fall and we would be six weeks late when we entered our first classes of the fall. But we were smart and able to catch up to the class before too long.
Daddy always reminded us that he worked from sun up to sun down every day and there was no time off even after the crops were laid by or the cotton was picked from the chores of taking care of the livestock such as feeding, watering, and inspecting for worms and disease. Mama's work never ended as she worked from sun up to sun down and continued to late at night if she needed to sew, wash and iron, and all night if we were sick. We each got a special birthday cake that Mama baked especially for us no matter how busy she was otherwise. She kept us too in the summer months washing jars used for canning things in bottles or cans food we had grown or fruit Daddy bought for her; such as peaches. We children never stopped working either as we helped Mama in every way possible. Mama would occasionally find a little enjoyment when she found time to listen to the soap opera, Stella Dallas or some other soap on the radio about mid-afternoon during the summer. For Daddy, there would be moving and baling hay or gathering in oats, or other fodder for the livestock to eat during the winter.
In conclusion, we, their children, are proud that our parents had the genius that it takes to live on a farm; to use their creativity, ingenuity, resourcefulness, determination, perseverance, and physical stamina to make do or do without, to persist in back breaking and endless poverty (there were only two families whom we were aware of who were poorer than we were; one family lived in a tent and the other worked as migrants from early spring until late November), and to stick to a job until it was done, to utilize every resource they possessed to survive and see their children grown. And, then after more than 27 years on the various farms, they embarked on and adjusted to another occupation and a whole different way of life in a strange city when their farming days were done. Only when all of their daughters (that other farmers had taunted Daddy for his misfortune in having daughters instead of sons), had graduated from high school and left the farm, and a spring flood had washed away the cotton that Daddy and his youngest son had planted, did Daddy and Mama decide enough was enough. This transition from the farm to the city was made when they were in their late forties and early fifties.
Daddy and Mama made their first airplane trip to visit me in New Orleans in 1963 after I sent them a ticket and all bets were that Daddy would not set foot inside the plane. (He loved it!). This was their first visit out of the state of Texas. They saw the wall telephone change to the rotary telephone, battery to transistor radio, television, and a man on the moon. They, too, were truly made of the "right stuff!" They never gave up, EVER!! In their later years, they were happiest when we gathered to celebrate Daddy's birthday on the 21st. of August and showered him with gifts and his favorite food. I think he finally realized that four daughters were a blessing he had not recognized previously. And Mama, despite hours of cooking, loved having all of the children and grandchildren gather under one roof for Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. They were loved, respected by all that knew them, and their memory lives on in all of their children and grandchildren.
Unless you have "gone to seed" before your time, you, the descendants of Jodie Thurmon Thompson and Emma Aldora Groom, have at least some of their many desirable attributes to help you make the most of your life. In case you do not know the meaning of the words, "Gone to Seed", it was a favorite phrase of Daddy's. It means someone or something that has stopped growing and producing anything.